No one with a shred of humanity can fail to be moved by some of the pictures coming out of Japan, whether an elderly woman being rescued from the rubble or frightened, bewildered schoolchildren waiting in vain for parents who will never return.
The devastation is on a biblical scale. Comparisons have been drawn with the dropping of the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Despite filling our homes with Japanese electronics and our garages with cars made by Nissan and Toyota, despite the vivid images on TV and assorted social networks, it remains a faraway country of which we know little and understand less.
Anyone who has visited or worked in Japan will tell you it is like landing on another planet. Beyond the baseball caps and Western clothes, the Japanese people have a distinct culture of their own, which is entirely alien to our own values. They are militantly racist and in the past have been capable of great cruelty.
Clearly Littlejohn was so moved by the devastation, when he came to write about it a week or so later, he thought he'd label the whole country as not just racist but 'militantly racist' and then mention the war. 'Shred of humanity' indeed. (In the online version, the subs have even included a picture of two emaciated prisoners of war.)
Of course, when Top Gear got into trouble recently for calling Mexicans 'lazy, feckless and flatulent' the Mail called this a 'slur' and an 'insult' and churned out six (very similar) articles about it within five days.
And the Mail leapt on another 'diplomatic incident' caused by a BBC programme, when QI made some jokes about a man who had survived the atmoic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The programme had caused a 'furore', 'insulted' one man and been 'Quite Insensitive'.
So, if the BBC makes jokes about all Mexicans or one Japanese man, it's an 'insult'.
If a Mail columnist says with a straight face that the 'Japanese people' - presumably all 125 million of them - are 'militantly racist', then that's, apparently, acceptable. To the Mail, it's 'powerful and provocative'.
He drags into this column his wife's dead grandfather, who had suffered as a POW and:
would never have joined a minute’s silence for Japan...Were he alive today, he would have remained doggedly in his seat if requested to stand in silent tribute to the dead of Japan.
Which may or may not be true - since he's dead, we'll never know. Yet when some people remain seated when asked to stand in tribute to one person who is alive, the Mail gets angry.
Littlejohn uses his wife's grandfather as a way to rant about when we should pay tribute:
I often wonder what our fathers and grandfathers would have made of modern Britain’s ghastly cult of sentimentality and vicarious grief. Ever since the hysteria surrounding the death of Lady Di, when half of the nation seemed to take leave of its senses, a section of the population seizes any excuse for a sobfest.
Showing ‘respect’ has become institutionalised. Before every one of the weekend’s Premier League football matches, for instance, fans were forced to stand and observe a minute’s silence for Japan. Why?
Why? Because over 9,000 human beings were killed and over 13,000 are missing, perhaps? But to him, a minute's silence for those people is 'any excuse for a sobfest' and part of a 'ghastly cult of sentimentality'?
'Showing ‘respect’ has become institutionalised.' How awful.
And 'forced'? More likely they were asked to, and thought it an appropriate thing to do.
I have no objection to honouring the dead in public, if the occasion or sense of loss warrants it.
At White Hart Lane we’ve recently said goodbye to some of the stars of Spurs’ double-winning side from the Sixties. There was genuine sadness over the loss of men many in the crowd had known personally. But how many of the hundreds of thousands of supporters corralled into grieving for Japan could even point to that country on a map?
So silent tribute to a few footballers is 'warranted'. But for tens of thousands of victims of a natural disaster?
...an excuse for a self-indulgent display of cost-free compassion.
He really doesn't seem to be able to grasp that people might feel 'genuine sadness' over the deaths of those we may not know personally.
He uses this to launch into a slightly strange attack on the Premier League:
Like most monsters, the Premier League has a sickening streak of sentimentality. Barely a week passes without yet another minute’s silence before kick-off...Of course, there is a commercial incentive here for the Premier League. No doubt the Japanese TV rights are up for renegotiation soon.
But there were silences before last weekend's Six Nations rugby games. And before football games elsewhere so this isn't just a Premier League, or even just a British, thing.
Then comes a paragraph of such mind-numbing nonsense, it's little wonder Littlejohn has a reputation for being less than rigorous with his research:
But why Japan and not, say, those massacred in Rwanda or starved to death by Mugabe in Zimbabwe? I don’t remember a minute’s silence for Haiti, although I may be mistaken. I’m sure we didn’t have a minute’s silence for our earthquake-hit Commonwealth cousins in Christchurch, New Zealand, before the Milan game. Maybe we did.
Firstly, it takes some nerve for him to invoke 'those massacred in Rwanda' when he said about the genocide there:
'Does anyone really give a monkey's about what happens in Rwanda? If the Mbongo tribe wants to wipe out the Mbingo tribe then as far as I am concerned that is entirely a matter for them.'
But look at the rest of that paragraph.
'I don't remember...although I may be mistaken.'
'I'm sure we didn't...Maybe we did'.
It really is quality journalism, isn't it?
A very quick use of Google would have proved there were minute silences for the victims of both the Haiti and New Zealand earthquakes in various places. He may be right about the Milan game, but there were silences at other sporting events for New Zealand, including at the Six Nations rugby, the cricket World Cup and at football matches.
Of course, had he bothered to find out about those silences, his argument of 'why a silence for the militant racists and not our Commonwealth cousins?' would have fallen apart.
Do you think the Japanese held a silent tribute for the victims of the London Transport bombings in 2005? Me neither.
Well, in response to those terrorist attacks, the then Japanese Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, issued a statement saying:
I would also like to extend my deepest sympathy to the victims of the attacks.
On top of that:
At around noon on July 8 on behalf of Prime Minister Koizumi currently visiting the United Kingdom, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hosoda visited the British Embassy in Tokyo to express the sympathy of the Government of Japan for those who were sacrificed in a series of explosions in London.
At the Embassy Mr. Hosoda expressed the deep condolences of the Government of Japan to the Government of the U.K.
Moreover, according to the American Government, the response to Hurricane Katrina was that:
Japan has pledged more than $1.5 million in private donations. The government of Japan has donated $200,000 in cash to the American Red Cross and some $800,000 in relief supplies -- from blankets to generators -- already are arriving to aid the most needy.
That's those 'militantly racist' 'alien values' in action.
According to figures on Wikipedia, 77% of the Japanese population is between 0 and 64 years of age so wouldn't have been born until after the war ended. And Littlejohn claims that he believes that:
It is wrong to visit the sins of previous generations on their modern descendants, although that doesn’t prevent the British Left constantly trying to make us feel guilty for centuries-old grievances, from the slave trade to the Irish potato famine.
And yet here he is, faced with the 'biblical-scale' devastation of the recent tsunami, dragging up decades-old grievances about the actions of some Japanese people. If he thinks it's wrong the visit the sins of previous generations, why mention the war at all?